If you are a perfect parent and have perfect kids Congratulations... you don't need to read any further. However if you're like the rest of us and feeling like you miss the mark many times and are feeling like you are not measuring up then read on.
There's no such thing as "Perfect Parenting" or "Perfect Children" it's just not a reality. So why then do we spend so much of our lives either striving for perfection or demanding perfection in others when the truth is we are all imperfect people? So many of us walk around with deep wounds and so much baggage feeling like we are failing at life because we are not measuring up to the ideal Mom, Dad, Spouse, Son, Daughter, or Friend we may be measuring ourselves with. We need to somehow get our minds around the fact that this idea of perfection is not reality. There are no perfect people, no perfect parents, no perfect kids, and no perfect families. So maybe that's the bad news, but here's the good news... you are enough. Did you hear that bit of "gospel"? God knows us and sees us just the way we are with all of our imperfections and flaws and still loves us with complete and everlasting love. An unconditional, transforming love that will absolutely bring wholeness and healing to our lives and to our parenting and marriage relationships.
If we bring this idea of perfection into the way we parent being so focused on raising perfect kids we'll end up frustrated and weary. We'll also most likely end up passing this idea of perfection on to our children setting them up for failure and feeling they can never measure up. We need to learn for ourselves to accept our own imperfections and teach our children to do the same by mirroring that for them. Holiness and really virtue in general is passed on much more by resonance, by modeling than by instructing... children will mirror us like it or not. The way we experience God seems to be the perfect, ultimate mirror.... that which receives everything just as it is without correction, distortion, without adjustment. Isn't that what we are all longing for someone who can see me, know everything about me and still receive me and love me just the way I am? Think about it, a mirror simply receives it doesn’t distort. This is how God sees and receives us and the transforming power of this unconditional love... "Hidden with Christ in God".
In his book "The Universal Christ", Father Richard Rohr writes- "The true and essential work of all religion is to help us recognize and recover the divine image in everything. Our job is to mirror things correctly, deeply, and fully until all beings know who they are. A mirror by its nature reflects impartially, equally, effortlessly, spontaneously, and endlessly. It does not produce the image, nor does it filter the image according to its perceptions or preferences. Authentic mirroring can only call forth what is already there. Consider the very “Mind of Christ” as a mirror. The Christ-mirror fully knows and loves us from all eternity and reflects that image back to us. I cannot logically prove this to you, but I do know that people who live inside of this resonance are both happy and healthy."
If we can have this mind of Christ operating that way then in our parenting styles now our children are also being given a mirror to be able to see themselves in a real and healthy way and not only that they will also begin to have the same mind of Christ to view the world around them and other people that way too. To see our children growing up in grace, kindness, love and acceptance of themselves and others is such an amazing possibility.
When I was a young father back in the eighties I remember a conversation I had with Bill Kimple an older guy at our church. I always called him Mr. Kimple, though I know he would have been fine with me calling him Bill, it somehow didn't sit right with me. He was a man who was highly respected in our community. He was a family man, a business man and a man who loved Jesus, loved his family and loved people. He had a way of saying things to you, kind of out of the blue, that would stop you in your tracks and make you think. I have cherished memories of Mr. (Bill) Kimple and several remembered conversations I came away from with a nugget of wisdom or bit of truth that I carry with me still today and this is one of them.
One cold, snowy Sunday after church as my wife and I were wrangling our kids, getting coats on and gathering up all the "stuff" that travels with a baby and two toddlers whenever we left the house... Mr. Kimple came up to me and said, "Someday you're gonna miss this." I looked up at him smiling down at me as I was trying to coax four tiny fingers and a thumb into the correct parts of an impossibly tiny mitten. Maybe I was looking extra frazzled at the moment I don't know but I smiled back and said, "yea I guess so." "Oh believe me," he said... "you will long for these days. Children are a gift and we only get to have them for such a short time and before you know it these kids will be grownup and these days will be gone. So, enjoy them while you can." As I gathered up a few stray cheerios from under the seat and rescued the purple crayon that went missing during the sermon I thought to myself, I'm not gonna miss this. But I was wrong and Mr. Kimple was right of course ... I do miss it... I miss it all and you will too.
As a young father I knew I didn't know it all but I thought I knew enough. I didn't realize it then but in hindsight I can see like many young men I was fairly confident and secure in my own abilities and if I'm honest a bit arrogant as well. But with age comes clarity and hopefully wisdom if we're willing to accept it. I'm sure you've heard the saying "hindsight is 20/20" and it's true because it's all about perspective. It's impossible for us to know what it's like until we've been there, made the journey and lived to tell about it. For young parents who are feeling the weight of this parenting gig and the responsibility of raising these babies to be healthy, happy, productive members of society it can be overwhelming. When you're in the thick of it just trying to do the next thing that needs to be done... picking up cheerios or getting tiny fingers into tiny mittens... it's easy to loose sight of the really important parts of being a parent.
Mr. Kimple helped me see something I might have been missing that day. He brought his perspective, his wisdom learned from years of being there, traveling that road and understanding this truth. How easy it is to get caught up in the day to day, mundane parts of raising kids and how much we will miss it all someday. I guess that's why I'm doing this podcast and why I'm sharing this story with you today. I'm not a parenting expert or child development specialist. I don't have any degrees or special training in the areas of child psychology and I certainly don’t have all the answers. But what I do have is perspective and experiences from this journey I've been on. Like Mr. Kimple, I love Jesus, I love my family and I love connecting with people like you and your kids and families like yours. I hope people find some encouragement and inspiration in the songs I sing and the things I share in concerts and workshops and though this podcast. Things like this little nugget of truth today... "You're gonna miss this someday... so enjoy your kids!"
Cheering you on!
I find myself reading lots of articles and tuning into discussions about kids and families. When I read or hear something that resonates with me I'll tuck it away as fodder for possible song ideas or future podcast episodes on the Roots and Wings Podcast. This morning I was going through some old file folders and found some notes I jotted down from a radio show discussion panel on parenting. I honestly don't remember the name of the radio show or source but I thought they were important enough to write down at the time and rediscovering them today I think they might be worth sharing with other parents out there.
Ephesians 6:4 encourages us with this thought: "Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord." Another translation says, "do not provoke your children to anger". Seems like a no brainer doesn't it ? And yet I know in my adventures in parenting I've been guilty of doing just that. I think that's why I must have taken the time to take these notes when I heard that radio interview. I hope these will be an encouragement to you too. Also stand by because this topic might show up in a future episode on the podcast.
8 Ways to Exasperate Your Kids:
If you're like me, as you read these bullet points you'll begin unpacking each one and considering how they may relate to your parenting style and relationship with your children. Someone once told me "we tend to parent the way we were parented". I think that's true for the most part. What's also true is that our parents were not perfect, in fact some may have been down right bad at it. So it makes sense for us to look out for those things that may creep into our parenting style that we may not even be aware of until it's too late and some damage is done. These eight points have been good ones for me to keep in mind as I've been trying to be a good Dad for my kids. Would love to hear your thoughts and how it's going in your "parenting adventure". Please leave a comment below.
Keep up the good work... and remember, you're a better parent than you think you are.
Cheering you on-
I have been married for a little over five years. In those five years, Jeff and I have experienced a lot. We have moved five times, across states and in different homes. We bought a dog that we probably love too much, changed jobs, travelled to new places, made some awesome friends, had some good laughs and some good cries, (well, I have) and did our best trying to be “adults.” I have learned a lot living life with Jeff. For example I now know how to spot deer rubs on trees, and take a fish off a hook. Some lessons may be more profound than others. J One lesson came early on in our dating days, which I discovered was something he learned from his dad. Ever since Jeff and I first started dating, he would often ask me, “What are you looking forward to?” If I couldn’t think of something, he would quickly work hard to change that.
This simple question has taught me some profound lessons. I find so much joy writing down our next adventure in my planner, whether it is a quick Starbucks run or day trip to the zoo. To have something to anticipate is exciting, and makes the gray days just a little less gray. But as I have grown with this idea, I realize that it is not only about anticipating the next big event on my calendar, it’s also learning to love and celebrate all the little moments in between.
As a society we have been trained to mark our calendars for December 25th, and wait with great anticipation for this one day. But the Advent Season gives us a chance to mark our spiritual calendars with so much more. Jesus could have come to earth and completed His mission in one day, one hour, or even one minute. But instead He chose to take His time, and spend it with us. He chose to come as a baby becoming fully human, and live how we live, puberty and all. (I really wonder why he didn’t change that after he experienced it J) He chose to walk where we walk, to grow in relationships with others and work to understand himself. He chose to feel with us and for us, to take on the joy and pain of others. He didn’t want to only give us hope, love, joy, and peace, but he wanted to experience it all with us. This is why the season of Advent is so special. We have an opportunity to stop, and intentionally celebrate all that Jesus has brought us. All the good and wonder that is not only found on THE Big Day, but also in the daily, mundane but extraordinary moments that make up our lives. We should mark our calendars, and anticipate the great day of Jesus and His coming, but let’s not stop there. Let us learn to live and celebrate all of the moments in between, and take the time that Jesus did to be with one another. So when you ask your neighbor, “What are you looking forward to?” and they don’t know how to respond, give them something to anticipate, and remind them that there is a lot of hope, love, joy, and peace for them today while they’re waiting.